Foreign Language Requirement

Foreign Language [FOL] — 0-4 courses

Requirement: All St. Olaf students must satisfy the foreign language requirement. Bachelor of Arts students must satisfactorily complete the fourth college semester course (numbered 232 or higher) taught in the French [FOL-F], German [FOL-G], or Spanish [FOL-S] languages; or the third college semester course (numbered 231 or higher) taught in the Chinese [FOL-C], Greek [FOL-K], Latin [FOL-L], Japanese [FOL-J], Norwegian [FOL-N], or Russian [FOL-R] languages, or demonstrate equivalent proficiency.

Requirement to be completed at St. Olaf: New matriculating students are expected to complete their foreign language (FOL) requirement with a course or courses taken at St. Olaf. In general, students are advised to begin foreign language study in the first semester of the first year and to continue their language study in each subsequent semester until the requirement is completed. In cases where a student’s schedule of courses makes that impossible, the student should consult with his or her advisor. After a student matriculates, under special circumstances, the registrar, in consultation with the appropriate foreign language department, may grant permission to a student to complete the final course for the FOL requirement through summer intensive or semester courses (through a leave of absence) taken at another institution.

Placement: Foreign language departments place first-year students and other new students in appropriate language courses on the basis of placement tests or high school preparation. Students entering with previous training in a foreign language must take the relevant placement test if one is offered. The foreign language placement tests are relatively short diagnostic tests; they should not be considered exhaustive and do not provide a satisfactory basis for the certification of proficiency or for receiving course credit. Rather, they function entirely for placement in St. Olaf language courses.

Proficiency: New matriculating or new transfer students who have taken college-level foreign language courses at another institution may receive elective credit for those courses, within the maximum number of pre-college credits allowed by St. Olaf, if the courses are deemed appropriate by the registrar. If new matriculating students decide to complete the FOL requirement in the language in which they have prior training, they must take and pass the necessary course(s) according to the placement test results and the FOL policy for the specific language. Students who place higher than the last course normally required to complete the FOL requirement may be eligible to take a proficiency exam. The foreign language proficiency tests are administered by the various foreign language departments. The foreign language proficiency tests measure proficiency at a level equivalent to the end of the corresponding number 231 or 232 language course. A student who passes the appropriate proficiency test satisfies the St. Olaf foreign language requirement (FOL) but does not receive course credit. Please consult individual departments for information about their FOL policies.

Languages not taught at St. Olaf: If new matriculating students or new transfer students wish to complete their FOL requirement with courses in a language not taught at St. Olaf, including American Sign Language (ASL), the course(s) must comply with college policy for completion of the FOL requirement, as determined by the registrar. Students planning to fulfill the foreign language requirement with transfer courses from other institutions should be aware of St. Olaf’s requirement of intermediate proficiency in one foreign language (including American Sign Language [ASL]). Questions regarding the transfer of foreign language courses to St. Olaf should be directed in advance to the registrar.

Native language other than English: Students who enter St. Olaf College with a native language other than English should consult the registrar. Such students may have their foreign language requirement fulfilled by showing evidence of proficiency in their native language. These students must prove completion through eighth grade in their native language; or they must provide a high school transcript that shows they completed their high school requirements in their native language; or they must pass a proficiency test through St. Olaf (see above) or administered by an outside evaluator.

Proficiency reports from persons not known to St. Olaf must be based on documented exposure or training by the student in a foreign language equivalent in length to three or four college semesters or demonstration of a sufficient length of time in a non-English speaking culture to give credence to a proficiency report. As a rule, proficiency reports from persons outside of St. Olaf are not acted upon until the student arranges for a final proficiency exam by persons and methods agreed to by members of the foreign language faculty, the registrar, and, if deemed necessary, the dean of the college. Such exams may involve an expense charged to the student.
Documented language learning disability: Students with a documented language learning disability should confer with the Student Accessibility Services in the Academic Support Center.

Difficulty progressing: Students who have difficulty making progress in foreign language courses at the college should first consult the instructors of their foreign language courses and their academic advisors; these faculty may also refer students to the Academic Support Center. Students are strongly urged to seek the support of a tutor and meet with that tutor on a regular schedule.

Alternative route: In very rare cases, the foreign language requirement may be fulfilled by another method: students who have not fulfilled the foreign language requirement may petition the Foreign Language Subcommittee of the Curriculum Committee to satisfy the remainder of the requirement by completing one or more substitute courses in foreign culture and civilization or in literature in English translation. In compliance with state and federal disability discrimination laws, this alternative route to fulfillment of the foreign language requirement is intended for students with disabilities specific to the learning of foreign languages. Any petition should be drawn up with the guidance of the Academic Support Center.